When I worked at a newspaper, my fellow reporters and I made mistakes.
Sometimes those mistakes were on the front page of the paper; sometimes tucked away on B7 between the obits and the county's largest legume. Sometimes they were mispelled names and misplaced box scores; sometimes misused facts and mishandled reputations.
But no matter the nature of the mistake-- its size or its import-- the correction always went in the same place. Second page of the A section, bottom right-hand corner. It was policy, and the policy had the unfortunate consequence of usually making the correction of a mistake less prominent than the mistake itself.
Such is the nature of news coverage on all levels, and one of the most valuable contributions the new media and blogs can make to that news coverage is to highlight corrections that would otherwise be overlooked in their little corner of A2.
A couple of weeks ago, spurred by Congressman John Murtha's assertion that Marines in Haditha had killed civilians "in cold blood," the media promptly rushed to judgement, topping every story with Murtha's cold-blooded soundbite. When word leaked from Pentagon sources that there might be murder charges in the case, the media ran with the "maybe murder" story.
Because no one had yet been charged, and no one was leaking the Marines' side of the story, many became concerned that the slanted coverage might affect the fair treatment and presumption of innocence to which American servicemen are entitled. One of those people was Brig. Gen. David M. Brahms, a former Marine lawyer who the Washington Post quoted out of context in its eagerness to get an Abu Ghraib reference into the story.
This week, the media is backing off of its original tone, and it's time to highlight corrections so they don't end up being relegated to the back of the paper and the back of people's minds. So, I give you the Top 3 things to remember about Haditha that the press would like you to forget.
1. Oops, Time After Time
In the first media report on a "possible massacre" at Haditha, back in March, Time magazine reported that "a day after the incident, a Haditha journalism student videotaped the scene at the local morgue and at the homes where the killings had occurred. The video was obtained by the Hammurabi Human Rights Group, which cooperates with the internationally respected Human Rights Watch, and has been shared with TIME."